Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Royal womb watch - and the wombs that we really should be watching

We are living in an era of limited privacy, much of which we have brought upon ourselves with our assorted social media accounts and demand for information about things that are really none of our business. Such as the contents of the Duchess of Cambridge's uterus. The media feeding frenzy outside the hospital where she is being treated for hyperemesis gravidarum - acute morning sickness - has been predictable and repulsive.

Live blogs on newspaper websites and endless TV news coverage is erupting on a story that hasn't developed much in the past 24 hours. Today, we had a Sky News reporter offering us the non-news that William very quickly got out of a Range Rover and dashed into the hospital this morning wearing much the same outfit as he was wearing yesterday. Wow. Man wearing trousers and jumper gets out of a car and walks through a door. Groundbreaking.

But this is the level of banality we can expect until the baby is born, despite the fact that hyperemesis gravidarum is nobody's idea of fun and the Daily Mail running tripe like spooky computer-generated images of what the kid might look like is beyond absurd.

Even I, an avowed republican, wouldn't wish hyperemesis gravidarum on anyone. It is awful, it is debilitating, it is what killed Charlotte Bronte. But what I really wish is that every pregnant woman in Britain, and indeed the world, can access the same level of prenatal healthcare the Duchess is currently experiencing. Right now, St Helier hospital, the location of my nearest Accident and Emergency and maternity units, is under threat. A&E and maternity may yet be closed down in a warped attempt to save money. This is in spite of a rising birth rate in the area and a recent multi-million pound refurbishment to the maternity unit.

As such, you'll have to forgive me for not getting massively excited about the royal pregnancy announcement.  As I've said before, if they want privacy, they can simply renounce their claims to the throne and live as private citizens. If your response is: "Why should they do that? Why can't the media just leave them alone?", I agree, the wall-to-wall media coverage is an unnecessary invasion of privacy and bona fide news stories are missing out on valuable airtime. But if you've ever clicked on a link about the royal couple, you are part of the problem.

Besides, as British taxpayers, perhaps we do have a right to know about the prospect of another member that we will have to support. It is the equivalent of a pregnant woman being obliged to tell her employer that she is expecting.

Instead of getting excited about the royal pregnancy, it seems far saner for us to get excited about the pregnancies of our friends and family. The pregnant women and new mothers who are close to me have real lives, far removed from that of a Duchess. As such, they have to deal with issues such as maternity leave, which doctor and hospital to trust, budgeting for the new arrival, caring for children they may already have and what they can expect by giving birth under the NHS system.

The Duchess can "scale back her engagements" for the foreseeable future in a way that pregnant women who have to work for a living cannot. Chances are, with the best of British healthcare at her disposal, the royal foetus will be fine. It's the pregnant women around the world who may not be fine that truly deserve our attention.


If you'd like to help pregnant women and new mothers around the world who are truly disadvantaged, I can highly recommend making a donation to help the amazing work done by MSF.

Image courtesy of www.kozzi.com


  1. Very balanced. Will persuade a lot of us who couldn't have put it into words so well.

  2. Well put G.
    The uselessness of it all.
    I sure wish I could afford to 'scale back' and have my husband jaunt out of an expensive car to be by my side!
    - Paxi

  3. Morning sickness is awful and I have sympathy and empathy for Kate but I would not want the whole world to know about it.
    The media coverage in Australia has already begun and as Peter Fitzsimons said on radio yesterday Kate is not the first person to have given birth and is not the first person to suffer from the awful type of morning sickness.
    We will now endure a weekly report on Kate until the baby or babies are born. The merchandise will be prepared already and my husband is hoping there will not be any coffee mugs featuring an ultrasound.

    1. "Weekly reports"? You're lucky! In the UK we get tons of bilge daily (the worst example I've seen to date was a piece by Bel Mooney in the Mail). Whilst I acknowledge that this baby does have some constitutional importance (while Britain remains a monarchy), the level of sycophancy is awful.


  4. and then i feel for all the lovely ladies who would like to be pregnant and can not and have to put aside their sadness and disappointment for yet another public pregnancy and think "lucky bitch"

  5. Yep, as Tanya said, this is clearly getting a bit much, especially for women who would dearly love to be pregnant.

    The Daily Mail was seriously stringing it out this morning with detailed descriptions of what Pippa and Carole Middleton wore to the hospital and the Earth-shattering news that Pippa arrived carrying a plastic bag that contained "possibly magazines."

    Daily Fail news editor: YOU HAVE TO WRITE AT LEAST 500 WORDS ON THIS!



    Honestly, they should be kissing the butts of the idiot 2Day FM DJs for while the prank was dumb, at least it gave them something new to write about.

    1. Can we just have peace now until the baby is born.
      We have had enough and there is still six months to go.
      If only people would stop buying rubbish magazines with weekly updates on the pregnancy.
      An announcement in June will be sufficient but until then just give us some peace.
      There will be name polls. Why not Sharon or Kevin and be done with it.